State of Hawaii

Cayetano given
average grade

A Washington, D.C., think tank
drops his rating to a C from a B

By Pat Omandam

Gov. Ben Cayetano has received an average mark for his fiscal policy over the past two years, according to the Cato Institute of Washington, D.C.

The libertarian think tank, which has issued fiscal policy report cards on the nation's governors for the past six bienniums, gave Hawaii's Democrat governor a C grade yesterday and ranked him 18th out of 50.

It is a drop from the B grade and seventh ranking he received two years ago. In 1998 the institute gave Cayetano a B grade, and he was ranked 18th.

"Hawaii is a great vacation paradise, but it is a hostile place to work or start a business," said Cato senior fellows Stephen Moore and co-author Stephen Slivinski.

Only two governors, Bill Owens of Colorado and Jeb Bush of Florida, got an A this year. Both are Republicans.

Four governors received an F: Democrats Gray Davis of California and John Kitzhaber of Oregon, and Republicans Don Sundquist of Tennessee and Bob Taft of Ohio.

The institute said yesterday Cayetano has had "the misfortune" of being governor during some of the state's worst economic times since statehood. Nevertheless, he has done many of the right things as governor, such as cut tax rates, trim the state work force, challenge costly government regulation and propose reductions in taxes.

"Cayetano's initiatives have generally been in the right direction but have not been bold enough to overcome the big-government, high-tax culture that has reigned for too long in Honolulu," the two said.

Cayetano often refers to the Cato Institute's 2000 ranking of him and mentions it on his online biography at the state Web site.

"They ranked us 18 out of 50. That's not too bad," the governor said yesterday through his spokesman. "I'm glad the Cato Institute recognized that we served during some of Hawaii's worst economic times."

The institute grades are based on 17 measures of each governor's performance of fiscal and economic importance, such as the actual yearly changes in spending and taxation levels, as well as changes recommended by each governor.

Generally, those with the most fiscally conservative records -- those who cut taxes and budgets -- get the highest grades.

The 2002 study found that states with the highest deficits have had substantially higher spending and tax revenue growth since 1995.

It also found that while government spending rose 19 percent since 1996, state general-fund spending rose 39 percent in the same period.

Overall, the institute said it found spending has surged nationwide in the past decade, and states should work to tackle the source of budget shortfalls and cut spending.

"State governments faced a combined budget gap of more than $40 billion in 2002, largely the result of an overspending binge in the 1990s," Moore and Slivinski said.

State of Hawaii

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --